Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

What Happens to Your Social Media & Online Accounts When You Die?

Until very recently there was really no estate planning direction on how your social media and online accounts should be handled after you pass away. If you're like me, I have multiple social media accounts and have opted to go paperless on every account that I can. Though this is the most convenient option for us now it may pose a problem when you pass away and there are no instructions or information left for your loved ones. I recently listened to a webinar hosted by TLD Law that gave out some great information and tips on how these digital assets should be handled.

First, we'll talk about what digital assets really are. Digital assets are considered any electronic record that is stored in an online account, not the online account itself. For example: You have a Gmail account, the Gmail account and address are not considered a digital asset. The digital assets would be any emails, pictures or other files in the email account.

Here are some other examples of digital assets:

Airplane Miles, Social Media, Software Licenses, Websites, Cryptocurrencies and any other digital file stored with in an online account or your computer; think Shutterfly, iCloud etc.

One quick way to ensure that your digital assets are taken care of after you die is buy completing a Power of Attorney specifically for those digital assets. The Power of Attorney should have a digital assets provision in it.

If you have a trust in place you should check it to see if there is a provision for digital assets. If the trust document was drafted before 2017 it likely does not, and you will need to amend the trust accordingly.

In the trust and power of attorney documents you should give clear instructions on how you would like your digital assets taken care of when you pass away.

By law, anyone you give this responsibility to will have a fiduciary duty of care, loyalty and confidentiality to uphold. What that means is that they are not allowed to share any personal information that has not already been made public.

A lot of online sites have either legacy contact information or inactive user account manager options that you can set up in your account profiles. Whoever you designate will be contacted after a certain length of time, usually chosen by you, where your account has not been active.

It's important to note that by giving some power of attorney over your digital assets, the companies that hold that information are not legally required to give them access to the online accounts. It is very important to compile an ongoing list of all of your online accounts as well as passwords and keep it in a safe place that your trusted person knows about. Downloading this information onto a hard drive and keeping it in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe are a couple of options. If you simply just give someone this information without the proper legal documents their attempt to log into your account may be misconstrued as computer fraud and may be prosecuted. Especially in the case of elderly parents or grandparents, because there is a heightened awareness of elderly abuse.

There is a ton more information and tips online. I highly encourage you to do some research and get these provisions in place.

 

 

 

 

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Do You Have a Plan for Your Aging Parents?

It’s a known fact that people are living a lot longer than they used to. Do you have a plan in place for your aging parents? I came across an interesting article in Financial Advisor Magazine about the toll being a care taker for your aging parents can put on you financially and emotionally. If you are facing the prospect of being the caretaker for your parents as they get older, the time is now to start having the important conversations with your family about getting an action plan together for their care.

Click here to read the full article

 

 

 

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Looking for Ways to Donate and Get a Tax Break?

Many times we are asked by our clients about ways they can give back through planned gifting. In our last quarterly newsletter, Carol explained how you can donate part or all of your mandatory IRA distributions (RMD) to a charity of your choice which also reduces your taxable income for the year. Another way of doing this is by setting up a charitable annuity. The way it works is the donor gives a gift to the charity (amounts vary), the donor receives fixed payments for life and the donor is entitled to a federal income tax deduction the year the gift is made. I have included a link to one that is offered through the ASPCA to use as an example but there are many more out there to suit everyone’s unique philanthropic wishes.

https://www.aspca.org/ways-to-give/planned-giving

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Emergency Information Folder

We talk to clients everyday about how important estate planning is and how they should have a trust in place to ensure that their wishes are met after they pass away or become incapacitated. While having a trust set up is great it doesn’t really provide all of the details necessary for a spouse or loved one to take care of the day to day tasks of wrapping up your affairs. It is a really good idea to create an information folder that provides the pertinent details such as account numbers and passwords. This is also valuable to have in case of an emergency such as a car accident or house fire. You can grab this folder and go. Here is a list of information you should have in the folder.

• Assets: checking and investment accounts, private business interests, location of safety deposit boxes, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s, trust agreements, real estate, vehicles, collectibles

• Liabilities: credit cards, mortgages, car payments, cell phone bills, other recurring bills • Social media/online accounts: passwords and login information for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Netflix, Hulu, iCloud or other cloud storage accounts, online photo storage accounts

• Miscellaneous subscriptions/memberships: airline rewards programs, Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco memberships, toll tag accounts, magazines, newspapers • Insurance: life insurance, long-term care, disability, home, auto

• Home maintenance: water, gas, electricity, telephone, alarm, lawn care, cable television, Internet service • Medical: medical conditions, medications, emergency contacts

• Personal: burial/cremation preferences, funeral plans, pre-paid funeral expenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security card

• Key contacts: financial and legal advisors, doctors, family members, close friends

Each person’s folder will require different information but this is a good start and you can customize it as needed. It also may be a good idea to keep a copy of this information in a folder in your email account, that way you only need to have one password to give out and everything is backed up by the cloud.

(This list was compiled from an article on wealthmanagement.com)

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Top Reasons to Set Up a Living Trust

 

Even if you are not super wealthy there are many benefits to setting up a living trust. A living trust is a document set up by an estate attorney to help you manage your assets, including property while you are alive and names a trustee to act on your behalf to carry out your instructions, if you become incapable of caring for yourself or pass away. Here are a few of the top reasons why you should set up a trust.

Avoids Probate- A trust allows your heirs to bypass probate which can be a lengthy process and your estate can be charged up to 5% in probate fees. This can mean a substantial savings in time, legal fees and paperwork.

Protection Against Disputes- Unfortunately there may be someone who is unhappy with the way you have instructed to have your assets distributed. A trust is harder to contest than a will is because they have to be able to prove that you were under undue pressure or influence in setting up the trust which is nearly impossible.

Flexibility- Trusts offer more flexibility in how you can distribute the funds. In the case where you may have minor children you can specify how the money is spent and when they would have full rights to the funds.

Avoids Estate Taxes- A trust can provide a way to avoid or reduce estate taxes because assets and property placed into a trust are not subject to these taxes.

Minimizes Family Conflicts- You can specifically detail exact items and monetary distributions to be given to each beneficiary. This helps to curtail any of the “who gets what” problems that may arise with family members.

Privacy- Trusts, unlike wills, are private because they do not go through probate. This means your assets and who you leave them to are kept private.

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